Last Night A Record Changed My Life

Mick Fleetwood he'd heard it all,
but the voice of Eva Cassidy touched his soul


One From The Heart
Mojo, November 2000
Interviewed by Clark Collis


For a couple of years in the '80s I had a jazz-blues music place called Fleetwood's in Washington CS. That's when I first came across Eva. I wanted the club to feature a lot of local players and she was a regular performer. I am always on the look out for new talent, if only because that's how I've kept Fleetwood Mac going for 35 years. She immediately captivated me. She did a lot of covers, yet if was like hearing a song for the first time. She was trying to get a record deal and had a couple of showcases at the club. I think Atlantic came down and looked at her. But she said they didn't get her. She would say, "If they don't want me as I am I don't want to be with them." She terrified them because she refused to do anything that would be against her craft. Times have changed since Fleetwood Mac started. There's a problem with a lot of major record companies" A&R departments. They follow trends and buy up blocks of artists. They get a whole bunch and hope two or three stick. The Ahmet Erteguns of their day were music people through and through. Yes, they were businessmen but they had a real sense of seeing something like when I saw Eva perform. You have to wait for that light to go on. When I first saw Stevie Nicks in the studio I knew she was playing from the heart. Same thing with Peter Green. I think Fleetwood Mac has survived because everyone was truly allowed to be who they were and are.

She was really easy to play with, God knows I'm not a great musician, but I was brought up playing with Peter Green who, like Eva, had such a command over dynamics. We were one hell of a loud band but we had a lot of moments where you could hear a pin drop. We developed this delicate touch, which was an extension of Peter's guitar-playing; playing with Eva was a similar thing.

The stuff on Songbird captures what she could do live. I didn't hear her play the song itself until she'd played at the club a few times. I put together with Atlantic a Rumours tribute thing. We had a whole slew of current acts but I was on the road and didn't have  a full focus and Atlantic pitched a young chap [Duncan Sheik] who did this version of Songbird which I liked but it didn't blow me away. Then a young sound guy at the club joined me on the road and brought Eva's version, but it was too late. What a drag, one of my mistakes. Christine's heard it, she loves it.

I also love her version of Over the Rainbow. The sweetest thing you ever heard. I often listen to her music, me and my wife. It brings back a lot of memories. She moved people and just had this presence. She was very shy but, on-stage, as strong as an ox. There's a lot of jazz in her, in the most accessible sense -- people have compared her to Ella Fitzgerald. She was a great interpreter of songs. She wrote, but she liked grabbing other people's songs. She was an interpreter of the highest calibre, a brave place to go. That's part of the reason why people got frightened. They'd think, She doesn't do all her own stuff. What were they talking about? A song's a song;s a song.

She died of cancer. Gone. Just like that. She was gone within months. Would she have been a star? I don't know. All one can assume is that someone would have noticed her. I know Bonnie Raitt and for years nobody took any notice of this woman. For years. But it's only a matter of time when you're that fucking good and you don't stop before someone notices you.



Article and picture provided and transcribed by trackaghost with thanks


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